Disclaimer: Mattel owns the Barbie doll line.
Time For A Change
By Jennifer Collins
Ken Carson rummaged through his tiny dorm room closet, searching for something to wear to work that didn't remind him of his ex. Lately, the student center was the only place where people came to ask him about things other than Barbie. It had been weeks since their breakup, but it still seemed like that's all anyone talked about.
He pulled a light gray hoodie off its hanger and proceeded to put it on over his head. He stopped mid-pull when he realized that it still smelled heavily of her perfume. Her sweet, succulent perfume…. "Ugh," he groaned, tossing the hoodie into a laundry basket. It was no use. Ever since she'd broken up with him, he'd thrown himself into work and classes, hoping to keep his mind off of her. That solution had worked for awhile. After all, his near perfect GPA was being maintained. And besides, if he didn't go to the usual UCLA student hangouts, he'd have no chance of running into her. The only drawback to keeping fully busy, he now realized, was that he hadn't had time to keep up with the laundry.
Ken sighed as he sifted through t-shirts with lipstick- stained collars and fashionable button-downs that she'd bought for him. He decided on a cotton raglan and hastily pulled it over his head, as if he could speed through the memory of shopping with Barbie and how she'd said the color of the shirt brought out the blue of his eyes…
His shift at the student center didn't start for a few hours, but he figured if he got there early he could finish all his homework before he had to tutor anyone. With that thought in his mind, he walked down the street with his hands in his jean pockets. He decided to take the long way through the college town rather than cutting through the back of the building to the campus. He liked to come this way. Sure, it was touristy for half of the year, but he liked the hustle and bustle during the season.
He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't notice the "Sale" sign posted on the door of one of the designer boutiques, but the easel sign on the sidewalk caught his eye. He checked his watch and saw that there were still four hours to kill before he had to be at work. Maybe a quick stop at the store to purchase some non-Barbie related clothes would do him some good.
The sales clerk smiled enthusiastically when he walked in the door to the small store. He glanced quickly through the racks of clothing and was about to browse the sweaters, but then he decided that if he was going to do this, he'd do it the right way. Why not? He had been working really hard all semester and had saved up quite a bit of cash. Maybe it was time for a new look.
He was skeptical when the clerk handed him tiny, bright colored tees and a pile of denim that looked like the male version of skinny jeans, but he decided to try them on anyway. A trendy and upbeat song was playing through the store's ceiling speakers as he stepped into the dressing room. He found through the full-length mirror that the dark colored jeans didn't look too bad on him. The lighting in the fitting room was bright, yet dim at the same time and he knew that it was a trick to make sure that the designer's clothes would look flattering on anyone, but he didn't care. He grinned as he pulled on a bright blue and silver shirt. The shirt was tight fitting, but he'd spent enough time at the gym to know that he could pull it off.
The sales clerk offered him some similar items and he gladly accepted it all. She asked if he wanted her to package up the blue shirt and dark jeans, but he shook his head. "Could you cut the tags off, please? I'm wearing these out."
She eagerly nodded. A new pair of white Vans and a charcoal gray fedora completed the look. He was grinning when he stepped outside the store and the unisex salon across the street caught his eye. "Alright," he said to himself as he strode through the crosswalk.
The hairdresser greeted him warmly. "What would you like?"
Ken shrugged. "Something different," was all he said.
The older woman raised an eyebrow. "Okay… how about going straight?"
He nodded and closed his eyes as she turned on the water to wash his hair. When he returned to the barber's chair, the hairdresser combed out his curls. She trimmed a little off, but his hair still hung over his ears. It took awhile for her to put in what he understood was some sort of chemical that would straighten out his hair, but he didn't mind. The woman suggested some highlights to accent his already dirty-blonde hair, and he agreed.
After his hair was dry and colored was the first time he actually looked at his reflection in the mirror and he was pleased with how he looked. He placed the fedora on top of his head before leaving the salon and strutting down the street.
It didn't take long to make his way to campus. He wasn't going to get to the student center quite as early as he'd hoped, but he'd still have time to do some homework before his shift started.
"Ken?" A high voice shrieked.
He looked up to find Summer, one of Barbie's friends staring wide-eyed at him. His ex stood right beside her, trying to cover her gaping mouth with her hands.
"Hello, ladies," He greeted them with a charming smile.
"Nice hat," Barbie offered lamely.
Ken nodded. "If you two will excuse me, I've got to get to work."
"Of course," Summer said, a little coolly. The girls waved as he continued on.
He could still hear them behind him.
"Man, is he hot!" Summer commented.
"Uh-huh," Barbie said.
"I can't believe you dumped him!"
Ken smiled as he entered the student center, ready for a satisfying day at work.